In The Know: Diverting alcohol tax to health centers; ex-chief justice picked for state regent; teacher certification pilot program advances…

In The KnowIn The Know is your daily briefing on Oklahoma policy-related news. Inclusion of a story does not necessarily mean endorsement by the Oklahoma Policy Institute. Click here to subscribe to In The Know and see past editions.

New from OK Policy

Investing in Oklahoma higher education yields strong returns: With so much focus on pre-K through twelfth grade education funding, it is easy to overlook the more drastic cuts that higher education has sustained over the past decade. State spending on higher education has decreased by 26 percent since 2008 with Oklahoma leading the nation for the most drastic cuts between 2012 and 2017.  Unfortunately, last year’s boost to PK-12 education funding did not extend to higher education whose budget remained virtually flat from the previous year. [OK Policy]

Prosperity Policy: Activism counts: This week marks the one-year anniversary of the teacher walkout that saw tens of thousands of Oklahoma teachers leave their classrooms for close to two weeks to hold daily mass rallies at the state Capitol. It’s a good time to ask: Did the walkout accomplish anything? [David Blatt / Journal Record]

In The News

Bill would divert alcohol tax revenues to health care centers: Using the words “dumpster fire” to describe the state of health care in Oklahoma, members of a Senate subcommittee voted on Wednesday to advance a bill aimed at shoring up funding for federally qualified health centers. Passage of House Bill 1132 would create a fund to help health centers cover costs of providing “uncompensated” care for people who don’t have insurance. [Journal Record ????]

Uncertainty over how state’s settlement with Purdue Pharma will impact other lawsuits: Some attorneys have raised concerns that Oklahoma’s settlement with Purdue, reached last week, could interfere with their lawsuits, which are independent from the state’s. Others are unsure whether they will elect to participate. [The Frontier] Oklahoma lawmakers grumble openly about opioid settlement. [AP News]

Oklahoma governor picks ex-chief justice to be state regent: Gov. Kevin Stitt chose a former chief justice of the Oklahoma Supreme Court to serve as the next member of the Oklahoma State Regents for Higher Education. Steven W. Taylor was appointed by Stitt on Wednesday morning to serve a nine-year term on the state’s coordinating board for higher education. The appointment is subject to Senate confirmation. [NewsOK]

Teacher certification pilot program based on TPS model advances in Oklahoma House: Legislation based largely on a Tulsa Public Schools initiative advanced to the House floor Wednesday evening after an extensive presentation to the House Appropriations and Budget Committee. The measure is billed as a way to bring the state’s burgeoning number of emergency-certified teachers up to speed. [Tulsa World]

Bills would boost funding for nursing homes by millions: Bills that would increase funding for nursing homes in Oklahoma received key votes of support from state lawmakers Wednesday. Members of the House Committee on Health Services and Long-term Care voted unanimously to support Senate Bill 280, and members of the Senate Appropriations Committee voted unanimously to support House Bill 1902. [Journal Record ????]

Oklahoma bill challenges alcohol distribution model: Alcohol distribution is a point of contention — again. Oklahomans voted to change a decades-old distribution model as part of sweeping changes to the state’s alcohol industry included in State Question 792. [NewsOK ????] A Tulsa-based wine and spirits distributor is trying to rally a change in the state’s distribution laws, though other distributors have already adjusted to the new system. [Journal Record ????]

People ‘disgusted’ with racist vandalism across Norman: More racist graffiti popped up in central Oklahoma overnight, with three locations in Norman vandalized with hateful messages. The Cleveland County Democratic Party headquarters, the Firehouse Art Center and McKinley Elementary School were defaced with racist messages against the Jewish religion and African Americans. [NonDoc] The Norman community and Oklahoma representatives respond after racist graffiti found in multiple locations. [OU Daily]

License plate law change: New law means you will take tags with you: A law passed last year changing the handling of license plates post-sale is set to go into effect later this summer, which has a state agency rolling out reminders for Oklahoma drivers. The Oklahoma Tax Commission is behind an informational campaign reminding motorists about a law change that goes into effect this summer. [KFOR]

Muskogee mayor appointed to Oklahoma Transportation Commission: Senate Pro Tem Greg Treat on Wednesday appointed Muskogee Mayor Bob Coburn to the Oklahoma Transportation Commission. Coburn will resign as mayor to serve on the commission. [Tulsa World]

‘Safety-sensitive’ medical marijuana changes may be delayed: On March 19, a constitutional challenge to the new law was filed in the form of a Petition for Declaratory Judgment in the District Court for Oklahoma County. The lawsuit alleges that the new law, including its “safety-sensitive” exception, violates Oklahoma law by denying due process, violating equal protection under the law, creating an impermissible special law and that it is unconstitutionally vague and therefore void. [NewsOK ????]

Oklahomans benefit from expungement law changes: Oklahomans often face the draconian effects of a felony conviction for something that happened in their distant past. Employers want to promote or give different jobs to employees but are prevented from doing so because of policy rules or insurance considerations. Parents want to serve as coaches or otherwise volunteer in youth activities but are prevented from doing so because of the dreaded background check necessary for most youth activities. [Peter Scimeca / Journal Record]

CDC director: Stigma biggest challenge to halting HIV in Oklahoma: Oklahoma may soon see more money to help fight the AIDS epidemic. Robert Redfield, director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recently visited health care facilities that offer treatment in Oklahoma, one of seven states where the rural transmission of HIV is exceptionally high. [StateImpact Oklahoma]

Oklahoma City-County Health Department encourages vaccinations: So far, this year there’s been 387 confirmed cases of measles in the United States, according to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention. Most of those cases are said to be unvaccinated children. The Oklahoma City County Health Department (OCCHD) is encouraging parents to vaccinate their children. [FOX 25]

Oklahoma’s unrealized solar potential: A recent market report ranked Oklahoma as having the sixth-highest potential for developing solar power, but among the nation’s worst in adding new solar capacity. Journal Record Editor Russell Ray discusses why solar energy in Oklahoma currently falls short of neighboring states and how the cost and benefits of the technology are starting to align. [KGOU]

Norman’s rejection of stormwater improvements criticized: The defeat of two propositions Tuesday to improve stormwater drainage and water quality in Norman will continue a “slow bleed” on the community that is threatening to cause “serious public health issues,” Norman Director of Public Works Shawn O’Leary said Wednesday. [Journal Record ????]

Broken Arrow Public Schools moves forward with plans for new elementary after White House intervenes to save land trade with city: The last-minute resolution of a federal tax lien that jeopardized a land swap between Broken Arrow and its school district has cleared the way for a new elementary school. [Tulsa World]

Quote of the Day

“Recently, after assisting with an expungement, an older client said ‘I can hold my head up now and die with a clean record. I can’t tell you how much that means to me.’”

-Attorney Peter Scimeca, writing about a new law that allows Oklahomans convicted of nonviolent felony crimes to become eligible for expungements after not receiving any other convictions for seven years [Source: Journal Record]

Number of the Day


Oklahoma’s rank for least equitable state tax system in the nation.

[Source: ITEP]

See previous Numbers of the Day here.

Policy Note

New Arkansas data contradict claims that most who lost Medicaid found jobs: A large majority of the more than 18,000 Arkansas Medicaid beneficiaries who lost their Medicaid coverage since the state began implementing a first-in-the-nation Medicaid work requirement in June not only haven’t found jobs, but they also probably don’t have health insurance, new state data suggest. [Center on Budget and Policy Priorities]

You can sign up here to receive In The Know by e-mail.


Jessica joined OK Policy as a Communications Associate in January 2018. A Mexican immigrant, she was a Clara Luper Scholar at Oklahoma City University where she obtained a B.A. in Political Science and Philosophy. Prior to joining OK Policy, Jessica worked at a digital marketing agency in Oklahoma City. She is an alumna of both the National Education for Women (N.E.W.) Leadership Institute (2013) and OK Policy's Summer Policy Institute (2015). In addition to her role at OK Policy, Jessica serves as a board member for Dream Action Oklahoma in OKC and communications director for Dream Alliance Oklahoma in Tulsa.

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.